HAMPSTEAD – The Board of Selectmen has ratified the proposed Hampstead Police Union contract.
Budget Committee Chairman Matt Murphy asked for the cost of the contract but was told the figure wasn’t available.
Despite that absence, the selectmen voted unanimously to ratify the two-year contract that guarantees 3 percent salary increases in each of the two years.
Murphy pointed out that when the increases given in the current contract are taken into consideration, members of the Police Union will have received a 15 percent increase over a five-year period. While no one disputed this, Board of Selectmen Chairman Sean Murphy, who negotiated the proposed contract for the Town with Detective Bobby Kelley, said the contract was negotiated at no cost to the Town, something somewhat out of the ordinary.
This was accomplished because neither side required an attorney during the negotiation sessions. Kelley said the Police Union salary increases include Cost-Of-Living Adjustments (COLA), whereas other Town employees get their step increases every two years plus COLA every year. He commended the Town for being willing to sit down without legal assistance to hammer out a reasonable contract.
In other business at the Dec. 23 meeting:
• A public hearing was held to accept the 127 Buttrick Road property being donated to the Town. Members of the Conservation Commission said it would be a good piece for the Town to have.
A brief discussion ensued, when Matt Murphy questioned whether the land was worth more than the $1,260.59 in back taxes owned on the property that would have to be waived. He worried that this would set a poor precedent.
However, the board voted unanimously to waive the taxes owed and to accept the donation of the property.
• A public hearing was also held on a $15,000 grant from the SE Johnson Company, stemming from the RecycleBank Challenge in which Hampstead represented New Hampshire and came in fifth among the 50 state entrants last year. The board unanimously approved accepting the grant. The grant is for recycling efforts and education.
In its discussion, the board decided to submit a warrant article that would create a revolving fund for the Recycling and Waste Disposal Committee. This would allow the money to be transferred from the General Fund, where it is now deposited as regulated by law, to the revolving fund if that is approved by the voters. That would allow the Recycling Committee to use the funds for educational efforts.
• The board discussed a request of the Hampstead Public Library to help with the water bill for the newly improved water well system to which the library is connected. The $6,685 charged to the library was unanticipated and there isn’t funding in the library budget to cover the bill.
The library trustees appealed to the Town for help, as the Library is a Town building.
Selectman Rick Hartung, liaison to the Library, suggested the Town give the Library $5,000 toward the bill, taken from the $10,000 Expendable Trust Fund established last Town Meeting for the purpose of funding building repairs and maintenance.
“Not providing the total amount means they have some skin in the game and thus if at the close of year there is money left in their budget, they should return this funding to the town,” he said.
It was pointed out that any money not expended from the Library budget at the close of the year is by law returned to the Town’s General Fund. The selectmen voted unanimously to approve Hartung’s motion, and the Town Treasurer will cut a $5,000 check to be given to the Library to help cover the water bill.
• Road Agent Jon Worthen asked to have $8,000 encumbered to pay the first half of the cost to run a water line from the new Police Station to the Town Garage. The balance of the cost of the water line project will be paid out of his next year’s budget. Worthen will do as much of the work as possible to keep the cost to the anticipated $16,000.
• The board unanimously approved authorizing an easement to Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) for the placement of new electric poles for the new Police Station.
• The selectmen discussed whether the Brox Industries contract for paving should be extended for another year or whether Worthen should go out for bids for next year’s paving projects. Brox guaranteed to hold its rates at the same level as the last contract.
Worthen provided documentation that the Brox price was mid-level in terms of what surrounding towns were paying for paving. The board voted unanimously to extend the contract this year, with the proviso that next year Worthen would put the work out to bid.